KAZAKHSTAN CELEBRATES DAY OF NATIONAL UNITY
Astana, May 3: On May 1, Kazakhstan celebrated the Day of the Unity of the Peoples of Kazakhstan, a day for strengthening the ties which bind together all the diff erent nationalities and all the diff erent ethnic groups and confessions in Kazakhstan.President Nazarbayev joined the festivities on the central square in the capital, Astana, to celebrate the national holiday. He strolled among the crowds and visited the ten tents which had been set up on the square, each one housing representatives of two or three of Kazakhstan’s diff erent ethnic groups and cultures. Dressed in their national costumes, the people displayed examples of folk-art, musical instruments, and traditional items for the home or which showed off the skills of their craftsmen. The President also attended a grand concert, where over one thousand dancers, musicians and singers provided entertainment.May 1 has long been a holiday in Kazakhstan.
In Soviet and immediate post-Soviet times it was marked as Labor Day. But in the autumn of 1995 at the suggestion of President Nazarbayev it was decided to switch the focus of the holiday to make it a celebration of Kazakhstan’s multi-ethnic and multi-confessional make-up.
Astana is a shining example of the cosmopolitan nature of Kazakhstan society. In the capital alone there live representatives of over 100 diff erent ethnic groups. There are 28 ethno-cultural associations in operation, and 11 Sunday schools catering for 568 students of diff erent nationalities.
In addressing the crowds in Astana, President Nazarbayev spoke of the value of “unity”. “Unity has been treasured throughout mankind’s history,” he said. “Thanks to unity, states and nations have risen to great heights, life has got better, mankind has developed. In the years of independence, Kazakhstan has lived as a united family. Thanks to this, we have already reached the heights, we have created a successful state, we have improved people’s lives and we have made our country known all over the world. We have one Motherland, one fate and one land.”
In other parts of Kazakhstan the holiday was marked in particular ways. In Pavlodar Region two new ethno-cultural associations were created in honor of the day: for the Romanian and Georgian minorities living there. There are now 21 ethnic associations in the Region. And in the centre of Pavlodar itself, a “Friendship Wreath”, three meters in diameter, was displayed on the central square, where representatives attached ribbons and fl owers.
The South Kazakhstan Region prides itself on being the most multi-national region of Kazakhstan. In the capital, Shymkent, an exhibition was held of the diff erent ethnic groups of the South Kazakhstan Region. There was also a festival on the city’s main square, where crowds were entertained by songs in a multitude of languages: Kazakh, Russian, Mordovian, Ukrainian, Korean and Uzbek.